The Kingdom

Yes, I do agree with the use of the word "ages" to describe grace. There was the age of Moses, there is the age of grace and we will be coming into the age of the Kingdom. Where the author and I disagree is his belief that the Kingdom is totally in the future and we can't mix kingdom messages with anyone in our dispensation of grace. This is sick. I will be pleasantly happy never to call myself a dispensationalist. I have always taught that the kingdom is yet to come but it is also here. Since we have the law in our minds and written in our hearts right now as a child of God, I thought there have been partial fulfillments of the kingdom message. What Chafer does is open my mind to shades of meaning that I never knew existed. In that I am profoundly grateful. . Since there has been so much written for and against dispensationalism, I should say that it would be an error not to understand that there have been different ages in the history of God's people, like the age of the law and the age of grace. To call them dispensations is true and proper. To teach that the beatitudes are not the gospel of the kingdom they were looking for in their own lives would be a lie. Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 3:5-10 Jesus spoke much of a Kingdom to come. He spoke of a heavenly kingdom (Mathew 5:19), and advised us to "seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness." (Mat 6:33). "But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you." (Mat 12:28) I can't defend the position that the Kingdom is now as well as in the future by using scripture any more than Chafer can prove by scripture that the Kingdom is totally in the future. This is something that I get from the living word that is Jesus. A clear reading of the scriptures and a clear understanding of the intent of Jesus and the New Testament writers to teach us the gospel of the Kingdom will lead one to believe that we can enter into the Kingdom of Heaven right now as long as Jesus is the Lord of our lives. I am sure that the author would say the same to support his view. John the Baptist preached that the kingdom was at hand but we have to realize that there has been a two thousand year interval since then. This interval has been called a parenthesis in time. God gave us the age of grace to graft the Gentiles into the vine and give them an inheritance under the promise given to Abraham. The kingdom was forfeited by the Jews when they rejected Him as King and once the message was again rejected by the Jews in the early church, Paul and others went to the Gentiles. Chafer mentions Abraham, Moses and Jesus, these are three of the dispensations people use, the dispensation of the promise, of the law and of grace. A further read of Chafer mentions Jesus as the rule of God over our hearts and the only part of the kingdom message that he seems to acknowledge. That is a glaring inconsistency in my view, a contradiction that I cannot overlook. If he says that there can be no commingling and then acknowledges even a little part of the kingdom may be here now, it can lead to others parts as true now as well. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. Isaiah 2:2 The Kingdom is yet to come. There is no theocracy yet in this world's government simply because of the fact that we are in the times of the Gentiles. The restoration of the two houses of Israel is of this writing, still in the future. Our swords are not yet beaten into plowshares (Isaiah 2:4) and the wolf does not yet feed with the lamb, (Isaiah 65:25). God gave the world powers over to the Gentiles to govern ever since the Jews refused the Messiah, their King. In other words, we are not yet part of the Kingdom of God where Jesus has put all governments under His feet. It is the unrighteous Gentile world powers that march onto Armageddon, including the West, Jesus will intervene somehow and put down all power. No one has yet figured it out completely. There is that progressive revelation however, where little by little God reveals His plan for us so that we can identify where the true people of God are actively working together to perfect the Church. Give it to Chafer for getting a lot of things right. The period of grace is peculiar only to the age from Calvary to the Kingdom, I would suppose even the 7 year period in between. The Israelite period coming before was the age of the law. Think of it this way. During the age of law, if you did good works, God would bless you. In the age of grace, God has already blessed you, now go and do good works. In the Old covenant, good works were required, in the new Covenant, good works are a responsibility, not an option but a response to the salvation we get from free grace through faith. Like St James said, without works, faith is dead being by itself. In the Old, they had to earn salvation, in the New, it is a free gift. In the last days it is the Gospel of the Kingdom that will be preached to the poor. The Kingdom is yet to come but it is also here. If the Kingdom is now, we must act like it is now to bring about the Kingdom to come. Our responsibility as the last day army of God is especially in the prophetic fulfillment of the kingdom as regards to the harvest and the liberation of the poor from oppression. The Kingdom was Jesus' burning determination. His teaching and parables were kingdom centered and focused on a loving and forgiving God in a world of peace and justice.

The Biblical theme of the kingdom of God provides the universal framework within which the liberation of Christians and the deliverance of the poor from oppression takes place. Jesus is careful to distinguish His Kingdom from others. The kingdom is brought about by liberated Christians and cannot be realized outside the social activities among the poor. Jesus will return when we speak as one and the gospel of the kingdom is preached by us to the poor. This may be the poor down the street or in the inner cities but just as probable is the effect that preaching social justice will have among developing countries. As a tool for evangelism, Jesus' way is the best. Previously the church's business had seemed to be primarily a matter of saving souls. It now becomes imperative for the Bride of Christ to regard social justice and human development as related to the Kingdom of God.

I am thinking that we are all in the Lord's kingdom. If there is a difference between the kingdom of this world and the heavenly kingdom, we can easily identify it but then when the spirit entered into the world with the blessings of atonement, things changed. It may be the kingdom of this world and the devil may be the god of it but through grace, mankind had entered into a new earth. We know that not everyone in the kingdom will be justified, only those that do the will of the Father which starts by initial faith in Him. The kingdom is certainly something that is entered into "For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." II Peter 1:11. But we also know in Matthew 8:11-12 concerning the kingdom of heaven that "And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Jesus was talking to the Centurion, a gentile and this puts many in the kingdom of heaven that will not be allowed to stay rather than not be allowed to enter. He seemed to be speaking of the Jews but I suppose it could mean most anyone.

The gospel writer Mark starts his history with the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Our English word gospel is from the Greek evangelion and means "good news that the Messiah has come, and the Kingdom of God was at hand." Jesus went about preaching the gospel of the kingdom. "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent, and believe in the gospel." That is why it is a question of entering into the kingdom of God, into "life", into "joy." Jesus and John the Baptist both proclaimed the gospel being at hand.

We as Christians are to be the representatives of that Kingdom and preach the good news so that others can come in. Men and women do not fully begin to experience the abundant life until they come into the Kingdom of God and allow the Kingdom to work within them.

The Jews first planted in the world the explosive ideas of progress, evolution, and the ultimate "coming of the kingdom." The first century groups of Palestine that were looking for the Kingdom of God, interpreted it in many ways. With the exception of the Sadducees, who were moderately content with the political and religious compromises that kept them in power, the common ground was in the expectation. With each affront of Roman arrogance, the anticipation grew of a victorious Messiah that would step in for His beleaguered people, intervene in history and defeat Rome, set up His Kingdom and restore Israel to its rightful place in the nations and bring His rule to bear. The preaching of Jesus about the Kingdom therefore, packed tremendous power to the ears of His listeners. The Jews were expecting the Messiah to establish a kingdom in the political realm but Jesus said "My Kingdom is not of this world." The gospel of the Kingdom is the blessed hope that all Christians have of eternal life at the end of time.

God is working in history to bring about His kingdom. To help you understand this, there is a Kingdom in Heaven and a Kingdom on earth. The kingdom of God is now, in that Jesus is reigning over our hearts, and in the future, when Jesus will be reigning over the nations. Those present at Pentecost arrived at a point in their spiritual walk that illuminated their minds, giving them a new view of the kingdom of God in that it was not a political empire, but a spiritual realm, with the risen Jesus as its ruler over the hearts of those who accepted Him by faith. Those that allow Jesus to be King over the heart, mind and soul enter a spiritual Kingdom that cannot be breached. Those that exhibit a glory in the power of the Holy Spirit and have overcome the world are part of a Heavenly Kingdom and in the realm of the departed saints and angels. The saints do not await the millennial kingdom resurrection when we pass but are immediately translated. Jesus' constant exercise over demons is that which He cites as a proof that the kingdom is already established.

Jesus also spoke of the kingdom to come and it is this kingdom that will be preached to the poor of the last days. The kingdom of God will not "come with observation" but will silently increase, wherever it is set up, and spread from heart to heart, from house to house, from town to town, from one kingdom to another. We spiritual Christians have often been warned by our "realist" friends that we cannot bring in the Kingdom of God by acting as if it were already here. Yet this is precisely what Jesus taught. If those of us as the Bride of Christ are prepared to take the teaching of the Bible at face value and to order our lives here and now by the laws of a transcendent Kingdom, then the power of God would answer the cry of faith, and the kingdom would break in upon the world anew and take them unawares. If the church will save itself and the world, it must cease being an end in itself. It must declare itself before the world and organize itself on the basis that it is a means to the end of the Kingdom of God. It must be disciplined by the Kingdom and act and live for Kingdom ends.

When we once realize that this universal and unlimited power of spirit is at the root of all things and of ourselves also, then we have obtained the key to the whole position - "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you".

Jesus wants us to be free to serve God with all our heart, soul and mind. His call to 'leave all' is accompanied by a promise; to those who seek first His Kingdom, the rest will be added. To be a part of Jesus' kingdom is equivalent to discipleship. It is foolishness to follow anyone who sets himself up as a leader in the army of God. Each and every calling of God in those that have been sent is for a specific purpose and not an excuse to usurp the authority of God and enforce authority upon another's calling. There is not one instance of a leader in the New Testament except the ones who would lead you astray and into captivity as the blind leading the blind. The New Testament church were all ministers of the gospel and humbled themselves enough to be able to serve one another and yield to the authority of Jesus. Those that tried to lead were the heretics, the Judaizers, the schismatics and false prophets and led people astray. Leaders want to be first in the kingdom and for us to follow them in, it is a fiery trap, don't fall in it. Many have been tried on this issue and have failed the test. If you love them, you will snatch them out of the fire. Beware of those that describe the army after the fashion of this world with a pecking order and submit others under the authority of fleshly leadership. There is no chain of command except our one link and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. Our end-time army of God will be walking shoulder to shoulder, marching in rank into the kingdom behind only one leader, our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. You need to put away your pride as to your calling, humble yourselves before God and serve each other. Many are called but few are chosen. It is through much trial and tribulation that the enemy will try to divert you. Follow the Lamb in the midst of the throne and He will lead you to living fountains of waters. You may need to go through the fire first but once you enter in, it is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Peace will only be achieved fully in the future kingdom of God and only when the accuser is cast down. The realization of the kingdom is a continuing work, begun by Jesus in the flesh and progressively maintained by His followers throughout history and expanding its scope in the world today by those who have received His seal in their consciousness. In the kingdom of God of the future, peace and justice will be fully realized but it starts with us in the here and now as the last day generation.

Justice is always the foundation of peace. In times past there has been a tension regarding peace and justice and the struggle for justice may threaten certain forms of peace. This is where Jesus is coming with a sword to take peace from the earth but it is only a transitory process. The growth of the Kingdom has been a process that occurs historically in liberation, in that, liberation means a greater fulfillment of the human race toward justice. The Queen of the South will rise up to denounce this generation and it will not be a peaceful denunciation. Babylon will be thrown down from her exalted position in violence. It is in this tension that we are to explain the problem of war and our relationship to it. Make no mistake about it, it is in this view of the gospel of the kingdom preached to the poor that will take the peace from the earth to achieve the liberation from the oppressive economic powers.

Jesus told us that when we see these things come to pass that we would know that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Ours is mainly spiritual warfare, it is not necessary for all of us to arm ourselves and take up the battle as some have thought. The Bride of Christ will speak as one and denounce the oppression and that will stimulate others around the world to take the cause to shake off the power of the beast. Jesus is preparing the nations of the world for the final conflict in order to bring about His kingdom and it is in our testimony that this will happen. It will not be pretty but we must still hold on the the great truths of the kingdom in the liberation of the poor regardless of the conflict and tension that it will cause. And we must first come together in agreement on this.

The goal is the kingdom of God, begun by Him here on earth and further extended until it is brought to perfection by Him at the end of the age. "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire." "Don't you know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." "Hearken, my beloved brethren, Has not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to them that love him?" "The kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and the dominion endures throughout all generations." "But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you." "And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said "The kingdom of God comes not with observation. Neither shall they say, Lo here, or Lo there, for behold, the kingdom of God is within you." This phrase meant in the midst of you all. "But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God." "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations and then shall the end come."

John Wesley wrote: "it is termed the Kingdom of God because it is the immediate fruit of God's reigning in the soul... It is called the Kingdom of heaven, because it is (in a degree) heaven opened in the soul" Wesley's words on the way to the Kingdom included loving your neighbor and that a heart right towards God and man implies happiness as well as holiness. "For it is not only righteousness, but also peace and joy in the Holy Ghost." David wrote that "the Lord has prepared His throne in the heavens and His kingdom rules over all."

Barnabas - "Consider, my children, what that signifies: he finished them in six days. The meaning of it is this; that in six thousand years the Lord God will bring all things to an end.. And he rested the seventh day.. that when His Son shall come and abolish the season of the Wicked One, and judge the ungodly, and shall change the sun and moon, and the stars; then he shall gloriously rest in that seventh day." Augustine also taught that the kingdom of God is a future kingdom.

Parables contain a mystery. But this mystery is nothing but the kingdom of God amidst a world that cannot see it. Seeking first the kingdom of God does not work as a principle of self-service nor as a warrant for a life of idle ease, that is for the luke-warm Christians who pervert the foundation of the promise. If you try to make it work on that false basis, you are likely as not to fall into a life of poverty and want, of scrounging around for bare sustenance. That is not freedom; it is another kind of slavery. If you have been taken out of this world then you a part of the heavenly kingdom. Those that place their hopes in this world will be part of a kingdom that is earth bound. As Jesus taught it, the kingdom of God was the gift of God and not to be entered into by men's striving. It was being ushered in through Jesus and was at the same time already here, and a future hope. To Jesus, men had not really begun to live until they had entered the kingdom of God, and to be in it was to have abounding, eternal life.
[06, 12, 16, 20, 54, 60, 97, 114, 115, 123, 162, 169, 178, 186, 187, 189, 224, 246, 15, 311, 319, 324, 326, 347, 23, 371, 378, Hebrews, I Corinthians, James, Psalms 103, 145, Matthew 3, 7, 24 Luke 9, John 18]

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